Black Friday Shopping? Black Out Your Private Info!

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Online Privacy with a VPN

With the rapid approach of Thanksgiving (or, as I like to call it, the Christmas Season Halftime Show, since we start up the holiday carols at the stroke of 12:01 on Halloween night now), we prepare for that calling of the herds of shoppers which is Black Friday. It's a consumer event that has evolved in the past decades as the Internet has given people the opportunity to scratch that shopping itch without having to tackle granny over that last red knit scarf or get hip-checked by a shopping cart to knock you out of the way of the limited edition Tickle Me Fuzzydoll. Now you can put the half-eaten turkey carcass in the fridge, turn on the football game of your choice, and flip open your laptop to browse items from the comfort of your living room.

But is that safer than getting out among the madding crowd? Perhaps in terms of potential bumps and bruises, but there are still a few precautions you should keep in mind when shopping online.

Experienced online shoppers may already know a thing or two about online safety. They will only shop from recognized domains, like Amazon or Walmart. They will look for the little lock icon or 'https' URLs. But just as you wouldn't go out in the cold and the snow to gather packages, you don't want to wander into the wilds of the Internet without putting on an important layer of protection: a VPN.

A VPN is a "virtual private network" and it works by basically opening a 'tunnel' through your host provider to the sites you visit. It encodes every single thing you do, not just your financial numbers, so that your ISP -- or anybody peeking into it -- can see where you are going or what you are doing. So when you are picking out the right kind of drone for Little Johnny, you won't start getting emails from competing drone manufacturers in January. Since your IP address won't be visible, you also won't be getting advertisements from gutter cleaners, home alarm salesmen, and vinyl siding installers who all happen to operate in your zip code.

Consider making the purchase of a VPN plan the first item on your Black Friday / Cyber Monday shopping list. There are several well-reviewed brands available, such as Nord VPN, votest Best VPN for reliability and platform compatibility by the editors at CNet. Then surf the sales with the assurance that your data and your privacy are fully protected.